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My statement on the Inquiry into building quality in the ACT

April 12, 2018

Thank you Madam Speaker

I am very pleased that Canberrans are going to be able to have their say about building quality in our city.

During my time as the Member for Yerrabi a number of residents in my electorate have approached me seeking help to rectify issues they are facing with their properties.

Often it has been the same story, the resident has bought off the plan and after moving in realised there were issues with the building and they were now having difficulty getting those issues rectified.

As time went on it became clear that it’s not one person here or one person there with an issue, actually a lot of people were experiencing difficulties.

To better understand the difficulties being encountered and to identify the way I could best respond I undertook a survey.  It was a pretty straight forward survey that simply asked two questions and gave people a chance to say what they thought.

Even though the survey had the potential to return a broad array of responses, the responses that were received were actually very consistent.  The majority of people surveyed were of the view the system wasn’t quite working the best it could.

I appreciate the ACT Government is undertaking a number of reforms in this area and I have no doubt they will be an improvement on the current system – the feedback I received however touched on a range of issues that went broader than what the Government has direct responsibility for.

For example, people consistently raised with me that they had concerns with the certification process.  People often questioned the role of certifiers in checking plans and making sure the plans were being followed.  Certifiers in the ACT are independent and the certification process while subject to some regulation is largely self-regulated by industry. 

Another example that was often raised with me was the difficulty owners had in getting developers to rectify identified issues. Often I would be asked what the government can do to help however the rectification process is predominantly litigation focused and as such would not necessarily include a government regulated mediation process.

Taking the time to talk with people and understand the wider concerns has led me to the conclusion there is a lot of work to be done here.

It is also very clear from the feedback I received that people want to be able to share their views on the approach taken to building regulation.

I would like to note I say the following with the Committee’s permission.

For this reason I took forward a proposal to the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, of which I am a member, for an inquiry into the areas of concern raised with me and that sat outside what was already being done.  

I am glad my colleagues on the committee agreed to my proposal as it is clear there is a need for a deeper discussion and potentially some different approaches.  It is also clear that Canberrans need to be able to have a say in that discussion.

I would encourage everyone in Canberra with a view on building and construction regulation whether that regulation be government regulation or industry self-regulation to share their thoughts by making a submission to the inquiry.

I would also like to note people will be able to submit to the inquiry with the option to redact any identifying information. 

With Canberra continuing to grow and building development increasing, it is important the building system is right for everyone and I welcome this inquiry.

Statement ends

*This statement was delivered in the ACT Legislative Assembly on 12 April 2018*